Fortunately, meeting professionals are — by temperament and experience — resilient. They recover and are able to withstand difficult situations and almost any problem with grace and resolve.
Being resilient in the face of adversity is invaluable. But what if you started making your meeting itself resilient? Specifically, what if you could design your meetings upon a new structure — a path of least resistance for your audience? Consider this: Every one of your guests is going to experience some challenge, some frustration, or some degree of friction at your event. Registration lines, food options, transportation delays, scheduling conflicts, missed sessions, room- temperature issues, seating snafus — the list of potential experiences they might find less than ideal is almost endless.
The first step to designing a resilient event is to know that all systems seek a path of least resistance. Water always flows downhill around any obstacle, over any rock, around any tree. Walking through a busy city is possible only by following a path of least resistance, bobbing and weaving through the crowd. Electrical currents flow in a pattern of least resistance. And even the road system in Boston was built upon a path of least resistance, engineered along the lines of cow paths in the 1800s when cows moved across the land seeking the easiest path for their next grazing pasture.
Resilient events have five core characteristics:
They are about us, not just me. The event is designed for the individual and the community, thus creating a “we’re in this together” experience which allows for the individual to be more patient as part of the collective.
They are about bridges, not moats. This means exclusivity, scarcity, and class systems are replaced by inclusion, openness, and a “yes, and …” approach to everything from the elimination of reserved seating and insider-only sessions.
They are about outcomes. Resilient meetings drive the achievement of collective as well as individual objectives. They leave your organization and the industry or profession you serve better off with new mandates, agendas, and efforts to advance the interests of everyone over the next year.
They are sustainable. They give back to communities, are mindful of their environmental impact, and inspire individuals who attend. Renewed energy, renewed resources, and renewed spirits.
They are like a judo master. They use the negative forces that create friction and flip them into positive outcomes. For example, it’s within your power to deputize volunteers to say, “Yes, I can make that better for you,” no matter what the situation.
If your next meeting is designed with a mindset of resilience, you’ll learn that no matter what goes wrong, all of the things that go right will result in a more positive energy, a better audience experience, and much higher scores on your evaluations.
Imagine taking a bird’s-eye view: Look down on your next meeting and see what it can be. What does the traffic flow look like, how are people interacting intentionally, and how is the natural path of least resistance being best leveraged to create the most amazing experience for your guests?
Don Neal is founder and CEO of marketing, strategy, and experience agency 360 Live Media.